Wednesday, March 26, 2008


In the midst of all the drama going on in the news these past weeks on black vs. white, white collar vs. blue collar, rural vs. urban, I was once again cleaning out old stuff and found something written by the then-President of Wesleyan University, William Chace. It made me stop in my tracks the first time I read it back in 1990, and it stopped me again this week:

Diversity, generally understood and embraced, is not casual liberal tolerance of anything and everything not yourself. It is not polite accommodation. Instead, diversity in, in action, the sometimes painful awareness that other people, other races, other voices, other habits of mind, have as much integrity of being, as much claim upon the world as you do. No one has an obligation greater than your own to change, or yield, or to assimilate into the mass. The irreconcilable is as much a part of social life as the congenial. Being strong in life is being strong amid differences while accepting the fact that your own self can be a considerable imposition upon everyone you meet. I urge you to consider your own oddity before you are troubled or offended by that of others. And I urge you, amid all the differences present to the eye and mind, to reach out and create the bonds that will sustain the commonwealth that will protect us all. We are meant to be here together.


Emily said...

His eloquent and thoughtful words DO cause the reader to stop in her or his tracks. Much to chew on is given to us in this paragraph. Thanks for sharing, E.

Utah Savage said...

Is that Wesleyan in Middletown, Connecticut? If so I spent a very long winter and early spring there in 1962. It was a "men"s only club then and I was an eighteen year old female of some wit and beauty. Sorry for the lack of modesty. I was the princess of Wesleyan for a season. Every time I walked into the dinning hall, I was met by a standing ovation. It was quite an experience.

But to get back to the fairness and equality issue, I absolutely agree with Reverend Wright. We, collectively have great sins to atone for, great arrogance and carelessness as a nation that must be addressed if we are to move forward.

I have been reading you for an hour or so this drizzly spring morning. And I just get crazier and crazier about you. I have to get over this adoration of you so I can focus on what you really are saying, and address specifics. Until that happens, you will have to tolerate having a gaa gaa fan.